Letters to the Editor

A Matter of Principal

A student speaks: I attended Hightower High School under Debbie Dunlap and Patricia Paquin, and I have to say that the school was run way better by Dunlap ["Cut Short," by Todd Spivak, June 29]. I was a freshman and sophomore under Dunlap, and school was so fun. Athletics were great because Dunlap was a true fan. The teachers had more freedom, and Dunlap allowed students the chance to enjoy themselves. During my junior and senior year, Paquin was the principal, and I felt that I was going to a military academy. She is one of the strictest, most evil-minded people I have ever known. Teachers would tell us what they disliked about her, but they had to keep their doors closed because she was known for dropping into your class unexpectedly. One time we were doing this project for a class, and some of the participants were goofing around. Everyone was having fun and laughing, even the teacher herself. Then Paquin came by, cleared her throat, and we had to stop. During my senior year, she threatened to withhold our diplomas if we didn't quiet down at graduation practice. The senior activities my senior year were miniscule compared to those I saw the seniors participate in when Dunlap was there. And the teachers -- many of our favorites from the Dunlap era -- voluntarily left when Paquin became head. We students couldn't get used to our teachers, because they could be there one semester and then leave the next. Overall, I personally believe that Patricia Paquin is the worst principal I have ever had. She should not be given the privilege of working with kids again, because when I look back on it, I was just a kid, and I don't think kids should be governed by her. Contrary to what she says, she does not care about kids. Her main goal is to have everything go her way. Her actions as a principal have been detrimental to kids at Hightower High School.

Edward Jones
Houston

Move on: Patricia Paquin, you are another fine example of the many reasons that the best and brightest of Texas do not want to go into teaching -- after long days of dealing with out-of-control students and their idiot parents, they get to deal with the idiotic whims of some administrator who couldn't do an effective job of teaching if her life depended on it. Get a clue. Half of your original faculty is gone. Time to move on.

John G. Pogue
Tyler

Sinking ship: As a high school teacher who was thinking about applying to teach at Hightower High, I was quite glad to read your article. I would never consider working in a school where the principal is a "bully" on a power trip. I am all about following rules, but belittling teachers in front of students, not allowing parents to express their concerns, and blatantly calling teachers liars after she made unprofessional comments during a meeting is outrageous. Paquin needs to realize that she would not have a job if it were not for these teachers, parents and students. She needs to be replaced ASAP so that the school doesn't have its reputation ruined even further. Warning lights should be going off in the Fort Bend ISD school board's head when 30 to 50 teachers are leaving every year. It sounds like Hightower High School is the Titanic and Paquin needs to be kicked off the ship before it sinks!

Name withheld by request
Houston

Grow up: Zero tolerance in circumstances such as those in this article is simply an excuse for people in positions of responsibility, for which they are unqualified, to avoid thinking behavior. Somehow, "tolerance" became a bad word before I realized what was happening. I cannot tell you how relieved I was the day my youngest child graduated from high school so I no longer had to pretend to support teachers whose talent did not extend past showing up for work every day. The current situation must be very frustrating for those individuals who are truly teachers. It is time for reality to return to the school systems -- even if it means some people must (gasp!) make decisions and take responsibility for those decisions...almost as if they were grown-ups!

LeAnne Imel
Sugar Land

Discretion is key: As a 12-year career law enforcement officer and a FBISD taxpayer, I am disgusted that such highly educated "educators" continue to act with such simple-minded stupidity. The Texas Penal Code is built on a fundamental principle that officers should apply the law with reasoned discretion. In fact, there are only two instances in the Penal Code in which the law dictates that an officer shall arrest. In every other instance, the discretion to make an arrest is left to the judgment of the officer and the circumstances. If only our school policies used such common sense.

Robert Williams
Missouri City

Getting impersonal: As an incoming freshman to UT Dallas, I was glad to leave Hightower High, since Paquin did not have the students' or staff's best interests at heart. Though it didn't directly criticize Paquin, I am glad that a newspaper of such widespread circulation is getting the word out about Paquin ruining my high school. To me, the worst part is how impersonal Paquin was toward her students, especially in contrast with Debbie Dunlap's effort to make students feel welcome at Hightower. I recall that she would often see me in the hallway during my freshman year and would address me by name (i.e., "Hello, what class are you headed to? How are you liking it here?"). To me, Paquin's only redeeming feature was that her secretary always had an ample supply of Jolly Ranchers, which I would often smuggle out, pockets bulging, to hand out to my classmates.

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